Photography by Kathy Tran

When chef Franchesca Nor first opened Dive Coastal Cuisine, she wanted to create a spot inspired by the many places she’s lived. With the ocean close to her heart and a passion for foods of all colors of the rainbow, Nor brought Dive to a community of customers who have since become family to her.

Nor originally intended for Dive to be a chain. However, once she built a strong customer base and tested out recipes on them, each recipe became unique and special to her.

“It showed me long term, with the quality of product that I use, I could not make it a chain,” Nor says. “It would lessen the quality. I really stayed focused on making just the best quality food with the most efficiency and most consistency within my restaurant.”

Nor’s passion for food began in childhood. She grew up in Los Angeles and San Diego, and her parents took her to restaurants, where she ordered shark and caviar. Nor even met Wolfgang Puck when she was 6.

Nor initially went to college to study photography and art. It wasn’t until she was around 20 years old when she decided to go to culinary school. She studied at the Cordon Bleu in Italy and at Johnson & Wales University in Miami.

“I wanted to know every trick of the trade,” Nor says. “Not only did I want to cook, I wanted to own a restaurant and create the whole design concept.”

When Dive opened 10 years ago, it was a more fast-casual setting. In 2018, the restaurant underwent an overhaul.

“We took a Dunkin’ Donuts and just basically put some tables and chairs in it and a couple slabs of paint to try to open the restaurant,” Nor says. “And we lived with that for eight years. And then the last few years, we gave it a bar and just gave it a little bit more class and a little more warmth. We literally closed the restaurant for three weeks and did the entire remodel in three weeks. That was a huge whirlwind.”

When she’s not at Dive, Nor enjoys gardening and spending time outdoors with her 4-year-old son.

Nor says her customers have made the current economic crisis easier for her.

“This is a very loyal neighborhood to a small business owner,” Nor says. “When you really show that you care about what you’re doing, it resonates with the public here.”

Nor encourages customers to try something new each time.

“If you love that one thing and you get it all the time, I promise you, whatever else you’ll try, you’ll love, and you might even change your mind and get that every time,” she says. “Expand your mind when you come here. The whole menu is delicious.”

Dive Coastal Cuisine, 3404 Rankin St., 214.891.1700,